Why Buhari May Lose Anti-Corruption War – Shehu Sani | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Why Buhari May Lose Anti-Corruption War – Shehu Sani

Posted: Nov 7, 2015 at 7:34 am   /   by   /   comments (1)

Blunt, cerebral and sharp-witted, that is Senator Shehu Sani, the human rights activist turned politician. From the recent ministerial screening exercise at the Senate to some other contemporary issues, the Senator who represents Kaduna Central Senatorial zone in this interview speaks on why the Senate cleared former Rivers State governor, Chibuike Amaechi for Minister, describes Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state as an “Emperor.”

Cautioning President Muhammadu Buhari not to abandon the masses who voted the All Progressives Congress (APC) into power, Sani also frowns at some of the views of a former Central Bank Governor, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi concerning the nation’s economy.

APC overlooked morality issue over Amaechi

The decision of the Senate is more of partisanship than morality. Senators from both the PDP and APC had taken positions based on the exigent interest of their own political parties. As for the PDP Senators, the issues they brought at hand were that Amaechi had corruptly enriched himself in office and so, must be slapped.

But in the actual sense, they had grudges against him over the role he played in removing the PDP from power. As for the APC Senators, the moral question raised about Amaechi eligibility was suppressed and instead, the Senators took positions that are in line with the interest of the party. Posterity is the best judge of controversies.

Actually, Senators have a duty to confirm ministerial nominees, present the best and ensure that those who are going to serve have the right moral, ethical and professional qualifications to be in that office.

But we must say that it is possible that the future generation of Nigerians will challenge our position  and will question our moral standing based on this very important issue. But politics is like a “war.”

You can use any means by which you are going to win. The APC sees Amaechi as one of its own, irrespective of the stains, dirt, allegations and moral burden that he may carry. On the other hand, the PDP is not against Amaechi because he is allegedly corrupt but because he worked against their party and poses an existential danger to the survival of the party.

Amaechi is a beneficiary of conflict of interest and a beneficiary of a political atmosphere that put forward partisan interest ahead of conscience and moral standing.

El-Rufai, distributing poverty in Kaduna

The problems between El-Rufai and me began during the primary elections. I was not his favourite candidate for the primary election because he had his own candidate who I defeated. He has now taken the position of empowering his own candidate to come over and fight me while grooming others who are all set to fight me.

The second aspect has to do with his style of governance. Many people say that as a politician, you are not permitted to speak against any of your own publicly. But I don’t believe in that. If you can speak out against your brother or sister, you can speak out against your neigbour and people with who you share the same religion, there is nothing wrong in speaking out against a person simply because he is from your political party.

Kaduna is today being presided over by a man who perceives himself as an Emperor. He has emasculated the political party. If you go the party headquarters in the state, nothing is happening there because he has appointed the leading members of the executive into his government and now, you don’t see anybody in the secretariat.

He has marginalized all those who struggled and fought to build the party in the state and made it possible for the party to win the general elections. He has also marginalized people who contested the elections with him. He has unleashed a style of governance that delivers no result other than hardship and pain on the ordinary people. He is out to experiment the Adam Smith’s School of Thought, on Kaduna.

All the steps he has taken are steps meant to enrich consultants, commissioned agents, the rich, contractors and middle men. His policies are not aimed at lifting the people out of poverty or unfolding people-oriented programmes. He has a conservative, capitalist and retrogressive world view. The world is moving east and he is insisting that we go west. So, I do not live on the same frequency with El-Rufai.

I am from the left wing of the political divide and he is from the right wing. My background is that of activism and his own background is that of an accidental civil servant and now the governor of the state. He has been out of Kaduna for over two decades and APC brought him back to Kaduna. He is so detached and disconnected from the people on the ground.

While governors from other states are building mass housing estates, El-Rufai wants to build a five star hotel, amusement parks and shopping malls in Kaduna. He wants to remove the destitute from the streets, hide them somewhere and create an impression that he has achieved. He has brought in an Abuja real estate mentality into Kaduna.

He wants to mortgage Kaduna to private property, private interest and private business consultants. I am disturbed about that. I do not support a man who will plunge our state into debt and erect monuments that will be credit to him and leave debt to our children and grand children to pay. I have issues with my own political relationship with him.

I have issues with his relationship with those who fought and struggled for us to win the elections and I also have issues with how he governs Kaduna State. He has alienated the workers, the political class, the religious leaders, both Muslims and Christians and he has alienated the youth and women. He governs the state through Twitter and Facebook accounts.

He runs an impressionable government that gives people outside the state an impression that he is building a Dubai in Kaduna but facts on the ground depict the contrary. You need to go and see what is happening there. The activities of government now run around the Government House.

The people are crying that he has imported experts to take over the affairs of the state. So, we are deeply concerned. We need to understand that in Kaduna, APC does not have total control of the state. APC has the northern and central Senatorial zones while the southern part of the state is still PDP. If we don’t take measures in winning the heart of the people, we will stand a serious danger in 2019 because the balance between the APC and the PDP in the state is still very fragile.

No excuses for non-performance

I have always been involved in helping the poor even before becoming Senator. The poor masses are my constituents. I stand for them and they also stood for me by voting me into office. I will use the little I have to execute projects to help alleviate their sufferings and in trying to meet their expectations.

We live in difficult times as a nation when our earnings from oil have depleted so much. The value of our currency is stagnant and government is facing serious cash crunch. There is also a mountain of expectations on those in positions of authority to perform. There is also the need to prove that the change we promised Nigerians is possible.

I am simply using the little I have to maximize impact in the lives of those I represent. Nigerians will not take any excuses. It is in the realm of difficulties and hardship that leaders are expected to perform. We have a duty to rescue our country from the economic doldrums, to give hope and meaning to the lives of our people.

We have a duty to restore the glory of our father land. As Senator, I have all my life struggled and fought for the masses and so, I cannot waste this golden opportunity. It is not how long you have been in government but how you use the opportunity to maximize impact on the lives of the people.

Our people are poor. The talakawa are our primary, political and ideological constituency. We have ideological, constitutional and institutional responsibility to liberate  them from poverty as we liberated them from tyrannical and corrupt leaders.

The talakawa are the most oppressed Nigerians. They have been exploited, dominated, plundered, neglected and abandoned for decades and the change government of President Muhammadu Buhari is a historic opportunity to lift them out of poverty, educate them, and enlighten them and empower them. This is part of my contribution to that vision.

My Talakawa Grassroots Revolutionary Development Programme is aimed at the political and ideological enlightenment of the people to know their political status and also the political and economic indices that stand as pillars of their own oppression. Secondly, it is an intervention in education, to provide their education complimentary needs in the seven local government areas which I represent.

It is also an intervention in the area of health by addressing some basic health issues that challenge their existence as a people. It is also an intervention in the area of faith. I think this is the time we should all get involved in the issue of religion itself.

If the state withdraws from moderate religious courses, we will simply create a vacuum for extremists to take over, mobilize and incite the people against the state. My intervention is a revolutionary intervention to mobilize the people and take them out of the Egypt which we found them, into the Promise Land.

Emir Sanusi, capitalism vendor, views inimical to nation’s economy

The Emir of Kano is an intelligent economist and has proven to be a man of impeccable character and vision. He is also a man who has spent most part of his life speaking out his mind. But he is a vendor of capitalism. His views are inimical to the economy of Nigeria. He is an apprentice of IMF and the World Bank policies that have emasculated Africa and have not led us out of poverty.

We are not exporting anything apart from oil and no investor is coming in to invest in anything in Nigeria other than oil. Devaluing Nigerian currency will simply make it easier for those who have been in public offices and have amassed wealth in foreign currency to live comfortably within and outside Nigeria and to oppress us the more.

You don’t have to make our national currency worthless in other to revamp our economy. Many countries in Latin America and in Europe have taken this IMF prescription that has led them to nowhere. The economic experimentation that has grown the nations of China, Brazil and South Africa has to do with putting national economic issues first.

If you go through the history of Sanusi’s political ideas, you can see how raw and exploitative capitalism has been as his ideas. In 2012, Sanusi supported the removal of subsidy and we were on the street protesting against it. While in office, he also had the opportunity to devalue the currency.

We believe that devaluation of the currency and removals of subsidy constitute an invitation to chaos that will lead to a national upheaval against the Buhari administration. If you remove subsidy and devalue currency, you are simply going to spark off inflation and life will be most terrible and brutal to the common man and it will ignite a national uprising that will unsettle, if not subdue the Buhari administration.

I think his advice is wrong and also coming at the wrong time and that is why we are opposed to it. With all due respect, he is a respectable person who has done a lot to save Nigeria and the Nigerian economy, but his views are out of touch with the realities of life outside his palace. People are find it difficult to eat, feed their children, pay their rents and hospital bills.

The mass of our people are without employment, many of our industries have closed down. We have inherited a debt-ridden economy and the masses of our people must not continue to be guinea pigs for economic experimentations. The poor should not continuously be sacrifice for the wrong doing and mismanagement by government of the past.

We must tackle corruption headlong

Well, there are people who have their own interpretations for whatever happens. But we need to define corruption and who are corrupt. If we have a proper definition of corruption, then we must go against everybody who is corrupt and not a few people. If we are interested in eradicating corruption, we cannot choose those to support and those to preserve.

There are three kinds of thieves. The ones we arrest and prosecute the ones we choose to arrest and prosecute and the ones we dust, repackage and present them as respectable people in the society. So, if we are going to fight corruption, then we must tie corruption to everybody that is corrupt.

A nation that is desirous of cleaning its past, thread the path of ethics and morality must not be selective in its prosecution of anti-corruption war. The Buhari administration is reputed to be antagonistic to corruption and corrupt people and it will continuously be probed for its own perception and image.

If we can see corruption and cover it up in the name of partisanship, the international community is free from partisanship and will be able to correct us. So, we must ensure that our views and position on corruption do not in any way ensure prosecuting some and preserving others. The corrupt man of today is influenced by how you treat the corrupt man of yesterday.

If people are corrupt and because they have joined a moral train, he is forgiven, we are simply deceiving ourselves. We must call corruption by its name. In Israel today, the former Prime Minister Ehud Omar, who played a leading role in the founding of Israel is in jail for corruption.

So, there is nothing like saying he has contributed or he has worked and should not be prosecuted. Rev. Allan Bulsaga was a leading anti- apartheid figure but he was tried for corruption. Helmot Khol, the German Chancellor who led the unification, was also tried for corruption. So, if we shield corruption simply because of political expediency, then we are not doing justice to the fight against corruption.

We should not also forget that the future generations in Nigeria will be free from our political chase of partisanship and judge us based on the fact which they have on the ground. We inherited a nation that has been plundered over the years, with a pile of debt which our children  and grand children will continue to pay. If we are going to take the first step, we must ensure that those who led our country to ruin are brought to book. If we don’t do that, we are simply wasting our time.

The Buhari challenge

When you fight to defeat an enemy, you need all the support and solidarity as well as all the backing to achieve that. At that time, you are blind to realities and the character and content of those backing you. By the time you are on the seat of power, you have to battle entrenched interests who were part of the forces that brought you to power.

One of the biggest undoing of people who came on a high moral high ground to power is having to detach themselves from entrenched interest and it is clear that what the entrenched interest do each time they study the possibility of a depth of government is that they jump ship and then become a liability.

Why Obasanjo was not able to spark off his reform from the early time has to do with the fact that in his earlier years in power, he had to please and appease those very forces who aided him into power. When you embark on such policy of pleasing and appeasing, you will sacrifice a legacy and your opportunity to perform.

So, a leader has a choice either to be on the side of the people and not entrenched interest or to appease entrenched interests and sacrifice performance and delivery and this is the challenge before the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

If you have found yourself in power, and faced with the problem of paucity of foreign exchange and then you have to deal with rice importers who were part of the contributors to the campaign, then, you will have your conscience to fight.

In all sense of the word, entrenched interest has been the undoing of the government of the past and also a big challenge to President Muhammadu Buhari to break away from them and move Nigeria forward.

Nigeria’s history of anti corruption trial is a media and political war that begins in the media and end up in politics. That is why in all the 140 prisons in the nation today, you don’t find people who have looted billions and millions of dollars in the cells.

When you visit the prisons in Nigeria today, most of those you see there are pick pockets, motor park touts, small scale advanced fee fraud persons who have no resource to get out, petty drug peddlers, prostitutes and miscreants in the society.

We have reached a point in Nigeria where we have to depend on the judicial  system of other countries to be able to able to recover our country and recover our money from those who looted our money. If we don’t exorcise politics out of our anti corruption crusade, it is most likely going to be polluted. We treat corruption in Nigeria with kid’s gloves. We pamper and glorify corrupt people.

If there is any difference that President Muhammadu Buhari will make is to prove that he can do what other people could not do. The World Bank is telling us now that over $7 billion of Abacha loot is still in the custody of banks across the world. This is a nation where there are people who still see Abacha as a hero.

We need to ask ourselves whether if Abacha was alive today, would we have heard the billions which he had stolen or are we are still in a country whereby the billions which you have stolen is only heard of or known when you have been arrested by the security forces of other countries or you must have died or fallen out of favour with the party or government in power?


Comments (1)

  • Nov 7, 2015 at 4:16 pm Daniel

    I salute Sani on the corruption issue. I hope Buhari is listening.

Comments are closed.